Cookbooks To Get Us Cooking

Whether you’ve never quite graduated from making quesadillas and guacamole to real food, or you have a tank of liquid nitrogen in your apartment for re-creating El Bulli favorites, I think most twenty-somethings could use a little of the basics, as well as some inspiration, to get cooking.  These are some of the favorites we turn to time and time again. They cover almost anything any Gen Y could ever want to eat, except for maybe Carbonated Mojito Spheres

Chez Panisse, VegetablesAliceWaters, ($21.01 on Amazon)

Mom always said “you need to eat more vegetables,” right?  Well, its time to learn how to make them properly!  Alice Waters is the queen of taking fresh, in season produce and cooking it to bring out the subtleties in flavor and texture, making that eggplant the very best eggplant it can be.  Waters herself is a champion of the slow food movement and aims at creating good tasting chow both in her restaurant and in her book:

“I feel that good food should be a right and not a privilege and it needs to be without pesticides and herbicides. And everybody deserves this food. And that’s not elitist,” said Waters.

Her book also delves into how to store, select, and prep almost every veggie you’ve ever heard of and probably 20 you don’t know.

The Silver Spoon, Phaidon Press, ($32.97 on Amazon)

It’s a pretty safe bet to make these days that anyone and everyone likes Italian food.  This book has some great recipes (more than 2,000 of them) for old favorite dishes that you should know how to make, as well as some more regional Italian dishes that are easy enough to master, but still high on the impressive factor. Delicious Days blogger Nicky Simpson said “the book’s long history of being a definitive book in any Italian kitchen, makes you feel to have found the origins of the Italian cuisine.”

Think Like A Chef, Tom Colicchio, ($14.80 on Amazon)

Tom Colicchio maybe best known for his role as a judge on Top Chef, but he actually got his start founding The Gramercy Tavern in New York and now Craft and Colicchio & Sons as well.  This cookbook will inspire you to think about how to put together a meal properly and learn to build complex flavors out of simple ingredients.  Don’t buy this one expecting only recipes – it has much more than that. Technique, ingredients, and an inspiring look to begin your journey into becoming a top chef.

Jenis Splendid Ice Creams at Home, ($14.93 on Amazon)

The famed Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams doesn’t disappoint in this cool, yet science geeky, with a hint of business savvy, all rolled together into one nice little package.  If you don’t know Jenis Splendid Ice Creams, they use locally sourced ingredients to make wacky, yet unbelievably tasty ice creams like goat cheese with roasted cognac figs and pale ale apricot.  And hey, everyone should make at least one batch of homemade ice cream in their lives.

Momofuku, David Chang and Peter Meehan, ($22.72 on Amazon)

If Italian is the old standby we can always count on, then Asian fusion is the fun new person in town everyone wants to be friends with.  And nobody does Asian better than Momofuku, the chain of boutique restaurants.  Get this one as much for the stories as for the recipes.  It definitely requires some out of the ordinary ingredients and cooking methods, but the results are worth it – Pork ramen?  Yes please!

What are your favorite cookbooks and how have they helped you get cooking? Tell us in the comments!

Lea Richards I left the crazy finance world and started a BBQ company. That more than anything should give you an idea of who I am. Oh, and I have a soft spot for puppies. Twitter: @iheartbbq

View all posts by Lea Richards

3 Responses to “Cookbooks To Get Us Cooking”

  1. Angela Stefano

    In general, I prefer just Googling for a recipe — I can search for “recipes with [ingredient I want to use]” or look through a plethora of spinach artichoke dip recipes until I find that one that doesn’t use mayo and includes an insane amount of artery-clogging cheese. I also like a lot of food blogs because they tend to include photos and a general recount of how the writer’s attempt at the recipe went. It’s nice to know if the amount of breadcrumbs the recipe recommends made everything too dry or whatever.

    But I do keep two cookbooks: “How To Cook Everything” ( and “Honest Pretzels” (

    The first was a Christmas gift, my dad’s attempt to get me to cook more. It has a killer muffin recipe, and I’d imagine I’d use it more if only I really had the time to think out what I wanted to make for dinner every night. Honest Pretzels is geared more toward kids, but it, too, was my parents’ way of trying to get me to cook, so I figure I ought to keep it.

    • Jessi Stafford is such an awesome website for recipes. You type in what you have and what you don’t like (you can search only vegetarian if you want) and it pulls up all the recipes from around the web that match your criteria. It’s AMAZEBALLS.


  2. Sami Pearlman

    Mark Bittman is also a great cookbook author. He not only gives great recipes, but books like “How to Cook Everything,” give great tips for those who are new to cooking, and really don’t even have the basics down. He also has great vegetarian recipes, and a blog on as well as pieces in New York Times Magazine.


Leave a Reply